A new theory of sexual orientation | INFJ Forum

A new theory of sexual orientation

Discussion in 'Psychology and MBTI' started by Satya, Apr 21, 2010.

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  1. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    I wanted to give other people a shot on this since my last thread kind of deteriorated into a disagreement between myself and FA.

    There are three fundamental theories that society holds regarding sexual orientation.

    1. It's a choice and it is changeable.

    This theory has a fundamental weakness in that it assumes anyone could choose to be gay or straight. The reality is that it is unlikely that heterosexual people are likely find the same sex attractive romantically and sexually the way that they find the opposite sex attractive. It also ignore significant evidence of biological factors involved in sexual orientation.

    2. People are born gay and it is not changeable.

    This theory has a fundamental flaw in that no determining biological factor has been found that results in sexual orientation. There are identical twins where one twin is straight and the other is gay. If homosexuality were genetic, then both would be the same orientation. Nonetheless, there is strong evidence that if one twin is gay, that other will be significantly more likely to turn out gay even if raised by a different family.
    This theory also suggests that uterine factors such as the hormone levels a child is exposed to while in the womb could activate certain genetic factors that would otherwise remain dormant. That would explain why one identical twin could end up gay while the other did not. Simply one would have been exposed to more hormone than the other. However, studies of children who were exposed of high levels of androgens do not demonstrate a significant increase or decrease in the number who turned out gay.

    3. It's an addiction and it is changeable with help.

    This is the evolved social conservative view. People may have a biological predisposition to be attracted to the same sex, but they have the choice to orient their behavior away from it rather than toward it. In this view homosexuality is seen as a learned behavior that has been positively reinforced through orgasm and has thus become addictive so that only sex with a same sex partner can be satisfying. With this view, biological predispositions to homosexuality can be accepted much in the same way that biological predispositions to alcohol can be accepted. In other words, they can override their natural tendencies by choosing not to engage in a certain behavior.
    The flaw to this argument is that sexual orientation seems to be set in most people before they even reach puberty and begin engaging in overt sexual behavior.

    FA's theory of sexual orientation,
    "Sexual orientation is simply an orientation of sexual behavior." (can and should be changed)

    I figured I ought to include this since he was debating it. His argument is that since people often choose to identify themselves by how they orient their behaviors, that homosexuality is no different. For example, if you are a vegetarian, then you identify yourself as one because you refuse to eat meat even if your instinct is to eat meat. As such, FA thinks that homosexual people are gay because they identify as gay and orient their sexual behavior towards people of the same sex. In essence, it is circular reasoning. Gay people are gay because they choose to have sex with people of the same sex and by having sex with people of the same sex they become gay.

    My new theory of sexual orientation, "Identity selects for sexual orientation." (can be temporarily adjusted but cannot be permanently changed and should not be changed)

    I'm beginning to believe that it is a person's identity, by which I mean their distinct personality, that selects for their sexual orientation. That would most likely occur in early childhood, before a person is even aware of their sexuality. This is subsequently discovered during adolescence as an individual becomes aware of their identity and undergoes the sexual awakening of puberty.

    People are most likely not born gay, they develop their sexual orientation alongside, and as part of, their personality. I think a person's personality in combination with their early experiences, select for sexual orientation in early childhood. In other words, I am rejecting the notion that people are born gay just as they might be born with a certain temperament. There is no evidence that I have found to support the notion that sexual orientation has a consistent biological link. Rather, all the evidence suggests that sexual orientation is the result of a combination of biological and psychosocial factors in early childhood, exactly like how our personalities develop.

    Being gay or straight may just be as much an aspect of a person's distinct personality as being introverted or extroverted.


    Thoughts?
     
  2. Ria

    Ria Snow White over the ocean

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    Sayta, I followed the thread and watched the debate go down. I tried to apply the theories to myself as a bisexual though, and found it difficult to see where that would put me. Any thoughts?

    (also, a demisexual )
     
  3. DefectiveCreative

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    So under this theory is a person's sexual orientation still malleable within the limits of their basic orientation?

    In other words once the orientation is set could you still slide along the scale between straight and gay but only up to the half-way point, in the same way that according to the standard theories regarding extraversion and intraversion your base type can become less or more intraverted/extraverted, but can never totally make the switch between the two?

    So for example someone could go from 100% straight to say 51% straight but never cross the line to 51% gay/49% straight, in much the same way that someone's base type could go from 100% extraverted to 51% extraverted, but never cross the line to 51% intraverted/49% extraverted.

    Is that correct?
     
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  4. slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    Is there evidence that points to personality being developed in childhood rather than other possibilities, such as traits being genetically wired before birth?
     
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  5. OP
    Satya

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    I'm not sure I agree with your description of how personality theory works, but I agree with the general idea you are trying to get across. I believe just as people may have different degrees of introversion, they may also have different degrees of sexual attraction.

    So let's imagine there is a 100 point scale, 0 being completely introverted and 100 being completely extaverted. Someone who fell close within 50 would most likely be ambiverted.

    There are three things to consider.
    1. Not everyone will fall on the same place on the scale.

    For example, an introvert may fall anywhere from 0-49 and could still be considered an introvert.

    2. Not everyone has the same degree of fluidity in moving up or down the scale.

    For example, two introverts who fall on 35 on the scale, one may go as far as say 60 and be fairly extroverted on occasion. The other may only go as far as say 36 and be just ever so slightly less introverted.

    3. Ultimately, what you are is what you feel most comfortable with most of the time.

    No matter how fluid an individual is being less introverted, if they are naturally introverted then they have to use energy to pretend they are otherwise. Therefore it is always temporary and they will eventually return to their natural state.

    Just replace "introverted" and "extraverted" with "gay" and "straight" in the above example to understand how I'm relating it to sexual orientation.
     
  6. OP
    Satya

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    Demisexuality is a form of asexuality. It would put you on an entirety different scale. One in which emotional, rather than physical traits, are the key factors of attraction.
     
  7. OP
    Satya

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    No. There is no determining psychosocial factor which predicts for sexual orientation. Parenting, child molestation, gender conforming behaviors, etc. have not been found to significantly influence the formation of sexual orientation.

    There is a developmental theory called, "Exotic becomes erotic" which purports that a person's personality would select for their sexual orientation based upon which sex they least identified with. In other words, boys who identify more closely with other girls than with fellow boys may be more predisposed to becoming gay.

    This view was enforced by a study where gay and straight people were asked to submit home videos of themselves as children to see if people could predict which would most likely grow up gay. Based upon their behaviors and mannerisms in the videos, there was an astonishing degree of accuracy to which people could guess which kids grew up to be gay. This strongly supported the notion that sexual orientation is settled in childhood.
     
  8. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    There are other options like:
    4. Nobody cares.
    5. F**k flies.
    6. There's no sexual orientation (hetero, homo, bi, a-, pan-, or any other).
    7. There's nothing wrong with anything, do whatever you like, don't have to call names and form special groups.
    8. It's all acquired by interaction, mutable by the organization of society, and yet, not a conscious choice, and not something to be changed at a later stage; but also nothing so strange or special.
    9. There's no use in fighting for this as some cause. That just reinforces the obsession with keeping it such a big deal.
     
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  9. slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    Clarification:I wasn't asking about sexual orientation, I was asking about personality traits.
     
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  10. OP
    Satya

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    It is difficult to say. We can do a comparison when it comes to homosexuality because we can assume that people were meant to be heterosexual. However, even if a person ends up being heavily influenced in their early childhood by psychosocial factors that sway or even change their personality, we have no way of knowing whether or not they would have ended up that way without those factors. We don't have anything to compare their personality to in order to determine whether they deviated from how they would have turned out otherwise. What is clear is that by the time a person reaches adolescence, their personality is pretty much stuck for better or for worse.
     
  11. OP
    Satya

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    Prop 8 proved that people cared on both sides.

    Nonsensical.

    Same as arguing that sexual orientation is a choice.

    Value judgment. Irrelevant to whether sexual orientation exists or not.

    No determining psychosocial factor or factors has been found to lead to sexual orientation.

    Take this argument to social conservatives who want to make sodomy illegal again and put homosexuality back into the DSM as a mental disorder. The issue comes from religion. Religion states that it is a sin and so in order for people who identify with the behavior not to be ostracized from a society that is over 90% religious, they need to make a good case. It is a big deal to the people who are different and who do not want to wake up one day in prison or a mental health facility.
     
  12. IndigoSensor

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    Not a single person will ever convince me (unless scientific literature proves otherwise with absolute certainty), that homosexuality is purely behavorial in nature. There IS a biological component to this. The fact that hormone levels can effect sexual attraction in lower lifeforms, there is corralation with hormone exposure in the womb (which thus effects how the brain is formed, and how it later functions). I also certainly believe that there are genetic factors included in this. It's all hard to quanitfy though because so many of these factors must come in to play. You can almost look at this as a parallel to skin color. It has genetic influence without a doubt, but it is not mendelian genetics.

    I will however, agree with the notion that homosexuality is in effect a personality trait. Personality in itself though does have genetic base to it. All of our cognitive abillites, processes, traits, ect. are geneticly controled in some way. Society can influence this on how it developed, but there is only a narrow window to how it can effect it. One is able to morph, evolve, and shift their personality, but they can not outright change it. Honestly, some of my sexual interests, and what I am attracted to now, have without a shadow of a doubt been influenced by what I was exposed to as a child, and what I was exposed to and experienced as a teenager. However, these interestes fall within a preset window that is controled by my biology and genetics. I can't deviate from that, nor can anyone else. Attempting to do so causes serious damage, and can not remain in place for an extended period, before the person reverts back to what is natural.
     
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  13. OP
    Satya

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    I'm certainly not disagreeing with ya. My ending conclusion was that all the evidence suggests that sexual orientation is the result of a combination of biological and psychosocial factors in early childhood that lead to sexual orientation developing alongside, and as a part of, personality.
     
  14. Flavus Aquila

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    I think there should be a clear distinction between:
    1. The homosexual disposition/tendency/instinct (the biological or unconscious disposition, which includes spontaneous attraction to members of the same sex, without the influence of habit/addiction).
    2. The homosexual orientation/identity (the aspect which subject to the free choice of the individual, which is influenced, but not determined by their dispositions/tendencies/instincts).

    An example of this would be a male prisoner, who by disposition is only attracted to members of the opposite sex (heterosexual attraction) but orients himself (as a sexually active man in an all male environment) towards same-sex activity. Such a man may not call or wish to think of himself as homosexual, but he has essentially chosen to function as one, albeit under the influence of a sexual disposition which impells sexual activity more strongly than it does the specificity of that sexual activity.

    I employ this distinction is to reflect/represent/describe reality: that there are aspects of the person which are determined (unconsciously/biologically/etc) and aspects which are freely chosen. Since the verb "to orientate" is used to name active, free, and conscious decisions (except in regard to sexuality - which I think arises from mis-use of the word), I think it should be so used in regard to sexuality.

    This isn't so much a theory as system of nomenclature which is more consistent with the non-sexual referenced use of the word 'orientation.' This distinction is principally that - an attempt to distinguish between the chosen and not-chosen aspects of sexual preference. To deny there is either aspect (chosen and not-chosen) would seem to overlook reality, or would seem to be a very dogmatic application of the theory of determinism.
     
    #14 Flavus Aquila, Apr 22, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2010
  15. slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    In this sense, Satya, I would argue to state that personality traits, for the most part, are defined from birth and if we are comparing personality and homosexuality, if they follow the same lines, conclusively we can say both originate at birth.

    You can see a difference between even infants in the way they interact with the world. Some cry 24-7, there have been others, who do not cry at all. You can only see these develop as personality traits as they get older because it is easier to spot; there are, in obsevational senses, always clues of behavior of a child's personality since birth, but it just isn't plainly obvious. Which could be why people are prone to believe that adolescence defines personality, because at that period of time the personality traits become much firmer and the easiest to spot. All of this would apply to homosexuality, too, if we were to go by your model.
     
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  16. IndigoSensor

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    Sexual behavior and sexual identity are not mutually exclusive. They are two separate things.

    To me, nearly all terms about homosexuality are referring to the identity, not the behavior. Most people assume this when they hear about.

    Honestly, I don't really see too much of the need to define these differences or point them out. It's really just a moot point.
     
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  17. Flavus Aquila

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    Moot it may be, but my beef is with the misuse of the word 'orientation.'
     
  18. Daeledin

    Daeledin <font color=#575EC1>NVs Fanboi</font>

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    I appreciate you're always trying to qualify sexual orientation outside of the realm of natural science. I'll go ahead and put my foot in my mouth as a science undergrad and say that it just isn't proper to try forcing science on a social/political issue in order to influence people in voting/believing a certain way. Although I'd always like for science to be promoted as a pinnacle of human evolution and progress it just isn't powerful enough to shut up the backwards bigots that need some group to hate on to make it through the day. Good news is science doesn't require your faith only your mind to listen.
    I'm going to go off on a gigantic side explosion of random knowledge and then come back to my own opinions later. I mention these only for the purpose of stressing that work is being done on sexuality and pieces are coming together. They shouldn't be ignored, but they can't satisfy us completely.

    These are a few of the more substantial biological theories I've read/heard about. I'm just going to spit ball this out.

    --The Xq28 chromosome region. 22 linkages out of 55 genes isolated that are believed to be involved in sexual function are specifically for orientation of what is thought to be attractive to the human mind.

    --All fetuses begin as female and become 'masculinized' by development of receptors for testosterone for ones carrying Y chromosomes.

    --AIS (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) males with genital feminization surgically altered to be females , CAH (Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia) females develop male genitalia and surgically assigned to be females. In the AIS case the children largely pole as being attracted to men and identify as male despite social queues for being female. In CAH the children still identify as female and are attracted to females (again largely poled as such, some are attracted to men).

    *I don't have time to dig through and find sources to back up the above statements so I apologize. These are recollections of things I vaguely remember from a few years back while reading up on the topic.

    We know for certain based on following ultrasound photos of fetuses that sexual differentiation beings by the 8th week in the fetus and is complete by the 16th week of gestation at the latest. This process takes place by the fetus responding to fetal hormones (stressed that these hormones come from the fetus, not mom). Unfortunately we have no way to measure levels of hormones in the fetus without risking its safety. So we can't make a perspective study that could make an end-all-be-all case on varying hormonal level effects.

    Also as a side note if you're reading this and wonder if it's possible to 'treat' homosexuality by injecting testosterone into homosexuals to make up for this. I'll bet you that all it will do is just make them horny.

    Some other possibilities..

    --There's the statistically shown correlation between how many older brothers one has. With each older brother comes a greater and greater chance of younger brothers being gay

    --Identical twin studies that provide good data. Cases where one is gay and the other straight are good controls to explore how much nature vs nurture theories can hold up.

    --A feminized hypothalamus has been observed in dissections of the brains of self identified homosexuals.

    Then there are some off the wall ones that just sound weird like finger ratio, and handedness. Attention! If you're ring finger and index finger are the same length you're gay! J/K Also Left Handed = Gay

    Back to what I think.

    Even though I surround myself on a daily basis with scientific evidence to support my beliefs I'm never satisfied with it being good enough. I need something with a personal vindication that drives home what I know is right. I'd love to believe that everyone can come together and support love in all its forms regardless of the reasons for them. That's just naive thinking though.

    So do I believe it's alterable? Short answer is no. Not just because of scientific evidence but my own experience. I can't change a damn thing about it no matter what I try. If its intrinsically entwined with my personality and upbringing I wouldn't be surprised. However I don't regret it or would change it. No one should be led to believe they have to change an aspect of their personality to function in society.

    I don't fall into any of the categories fundamentalist pastors have made for homosexuality like overbearing mothers or absent fathers, molestation, or any of that nonsense. My childhood and adolescence was extremely average, if not just a tad bit on the lonely side. If I had to try to isolate any one factor that would result in me being gay I couldn't do it. I've tried before. I've gone through the denial and everything in between it. Enough self-imposed hatred to alter me forever. Molding me into a person with more patience, feeling, and understanding then most men I meet (I know I must come off that way SO much on these forums with my book sized posts and dry language). I'd much rather say the person I am today is because I'm gay. I'll readily believe it was always there whether or not I was consciously aware of it, just like any other kid who doesn't think about sex until puberty; at least in the manner adults do. Discovery was just a hurdle of trials I had to endure to make me: me.

    That's the true beauty of things being intertwined. There was no beginning, and the end will come when I die. All I know for sure is I want a boyfriend goddamnit!
     
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    #18 Daeledin, Apr 22, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2010
    Satya and slant like this.
  19. IndigoSensor

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    *gag* idk how much you picked up on this, but I DETEST semantics.

    Orientation = sexual identity 95% of the time.
     
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  20. Norton

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    A search of PubMed yields research that seems to indicate biological (not necessarily genetic) factors influence fetal development to determine the sexuality of an individual. Some studies suggest that lower levels of in utero testosterone are correlated with the development of homosexuality. This may also be consistent with observations that later sons have a greater chance of being homosexual that their older male siblings. That is, the ability of the mother to support higher levels of testosterone in utero is compromised in later pregnancies. So, blame it on the mother, my physician wife says somewhat in jest.
     
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